Mixed emotions for Mikel Azcona after rollercoaster home event

Mikel Azcona has been one of the best talents to emerge from TCR racing in the past few years, so as he entered his home event of the FIA World Touring Car Cup, the Spaniard would have hoped to score another victory on home turf – just as he managed last season.

However, Azcona didn’t quite reach those heights on this occasion, as he battled against a car which looked slightly off the pace.

Heading into the weekend though, both Audi and CUPRA had been handed a weight break in the FIA World Touring Car Cup balance of performance, following a difficult first two events of the season. 

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As such, it was expected that the two brands would see a rise in form at Motorland Aragon, and that was certainly the case for Audi. 

In truth, CUPRA did also experience an upturn in pace, though not quite to the same extent. From practice onwards, it seemed relatively clear that although the Spanish marque would probably be in the midfield mix at their home event, the top positions were likely to still be just out of reach.

Nevertheless, of Zengo Motorsport’s four drivers, it was Azcona who arguably shone the brightest with the equipment he had at his disposal. 

By qualifying in ninth, the Spaniard would go on to start the reversed-grid opening race from the second grid slot, just behind polesitter Gabriele Tarquini.

In the early stages of the race, Azcona held onto the back of Tarquini’s Hyundai Elantra, but as the laps went by any chance of overtaking the Italian seemed to slip away. 

Overall though, Azcona wound up feeling pretty pleased with the performance.

“There was really a lot of ups and downs [this weekend],” he said. “In the first race we were really happy with the car and with second position. 

“With this car at the moment we are a little bit slower than the Hyundai and the other brands, but P2 was amazing. 

“Good points for the championship, and first podium of the year for CUPRA Racing and Zengo Motorsport, but the second race was really, really bad.”

As he alludes to in that quote, Sunday’s feature race didn’t go to plan at all. In fact, Azcona’s race was compromised almost as soon as it began, as the Spaniard failed to get away from the starting grid with the rest of the pack.

“The lock of the handbrake was activated,” he explained. “After my start I released the handbrake, but the locker was working so my rear tyres were completely braked. 

“I realised after some seconds that the handbrake was working and I tried to release the locker, but I lost all the positions and from this point I had to push really hard to catch the cars in front of me. 

“I was really fast, and actually I did some really close battles with the other cars, mostly with the Hondas and with Hyundais too. 

“But finally, I was happy because twelfth position after starting from last position and seven seconds to the last car is quite good for the championship.

“I expected more before the race, but anyway, points is good so we’ll keep pushing for the next races.”

Azcona remains CUPRA’s leading driver in the WTCR this year, however his seventeenth-placed ranking in the drivers’ championship standings speaks volumes about the difficulties that Zengo Motorsport are facing.

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